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Us 61, New York 23, Washington 21, America 10, D.c. 9, Pentagon 9, United States 8, Pennsylvania 7, Faa 6, Boston 6, Cleveland 5, Dan 4, Dallas 4, Europe 4, Laura Bush 3, Texas 3, Lufthansa 3, Laguardia 3, Afghanistan 3, Atlantic City 3,
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  CSPAN    American Perspectives    News/Business. Historical and  
   recent cultural and political events.  

    September 11, 2010
    11:00 - 1:59am EDT  

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they went back inside, shut the door and stage. [laughter] so we thought we had evacuated the building. we had not. we actually left three people in the building. >> september 11th was your first day on the job at the national command center. when you discovered the new york had shut down its -- you said how new york had shut down its airspace. you stopped all flights to and from los angeles. you were trying to minimize what was happening. it stopped all aircraft from taking off. 16 minutes, 17 minutes after you porter all aircraft to stop taking off is when -- after you ordered all aircraft to stop
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taking off is when the command came to land erything. what was your mindset? how did you come to the point to thatthat historic call had never been done, and were you thinking that your first day on your job might be a last? [laughter] >> after 175 struck the south tower, i call the supervisor and told him to think about issuing a national ground a stop order. they said they would get back to me, but they did not. [laughter] that was about 9:10 a.m. at 9:25 a.m. i gave the order not to do any more takeoffs. there was not mh to do what the point except to land
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everyone. -- to do at that point except to land everyone. i had considered giving the order earlier. by the way, i have told my colleagues, but i am surrounded in a facility like this with about 40 type a personalities to are chewing off their armto get something done. there was a lot of urgency by the individuals, anthese people were no different, to do something, to do something positive. we kept reacting to news that we got. finally, i was reacting to american 77, but it was kind of like the last straw. at that juncture, i figured we had had enough. it did run through my mind that
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if it was the wrong decision, because it would have been very costly t misplace all of the parts of an airline to get that system functioning again, it would have been billions of dollars, but my only thought at that time was that i might go back to my law practice. [laughter] it is not that bad being a an air-trafficgh controller is a lot more interesting and exciting. i enjoy that career. it did run through my mind. i have a lot of staff the day you are willing to give me advice unsolicited. [laughter] i took it and try to keep things going. we had people in the command center to voice their concern about whether the facility was safe or not. of course, it does seem like a logical conclusion that you would try to take out a
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communications center. the good thing about the command center is that i do not think anyone in the country knew where in the hell we were [lauger] we are in a private building, a regular business outside of washington. you would not know we were there at all. i reassure the individuals that re concerned about our anonymity. >> dan, in washington, d.c., you were in a unique position, being in our nation's capital. you turned away all of the aircraft. nobody else is supposed to be coming into washington. the order has gone out to land everybody. you were dealing with the military, who had launched 16 fighters over washington. at the same time this was going on, you were faced with an unusl circumstance because the
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continuity of government plan went into effect, which was the plan to evacuate our most senior government officials in the event of attack, so you did have aircraft coming in and going out. how did you do that? >> to be clear, i was one of about five or six individuals to all just through the rules out the ndow and decided, let's get a plan. some of the jets that had been airborne had come back because they were out of fuel.
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said we were going to figure this out. i told them i had to be honest. i was not a defense controller. air-traffic controlle try to keep airplanes apart. i needed quick schooling on what he needed from me. he said weeeded a common spot and recalling the bull's-eye. he said it would be at the airport. he said it would vary in range and distance from that spot. he was setting up the fighter cap. that was the combat air patrol. we were trying to determine eight system. there are all of these targets. i cannot get into it in this setting, but these doomsday and continuity of government plans with different elements of the military and faa practiced every day to move the decision makers of washington to save,
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undisclosed location. that all happened that day. it had been developed forears and modified as things went on. but i do not think anybody really thought that you were looking for an attack from the air. here were all of these helicopters and various other things coming into the area to pick people up and fly them to save locations. they were airborne and armed. we did not trust anybody. he had to trust me. i have to trust him. that was the extent of the trust. how we did not inadvertely shoot down one of our own rcraft is really a testament to the guys that came in on top in the air traffic controllers calling the positions out to the aircraft. they had to positively identify every aircraft that came i the people that came into swoop people out of the pentagon, flying severely injured to hospitals.
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one of the major trauma centers was near the white house. we had to fly over that. we had to make our own rules. it was pretty incredible. the decision for us in the washington area to get everyone down on the ground was a quick one. my supervisor made the decision on his own. it was a great decisn. that part of our job was done. the big part was setting up a fighter cap and identifying all of the other aircraft and things coming and going in the air space. was really an incredible few hours. >> you mentioned a couple of years back in the circumstance stuck with me. during this time as you have all the fighters over the city, you are breaking all of theules. you had created your own rules on howou operate this day. there was an aircraft coming into d.c. -- obviously a
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government aircraf you have determined how you were going to thread it through all the fighters circling the city. your supervisor walked into the room. >> when the attorney general is coming in, that is a different story. we will get to that if we have time. we did not know who it was. andrews aiforce base was recovering military leaders to go in there and do what they had to do. the deputy manager had rushed in. he was out of the building at the time of the debt. he will remain nameless. he is a very by the book type of guy. he walked in there as i am telling the other controller that there was an air force jet at 19,000 et that had to get down to 2,000 feet to land at
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airforce- enders' air force base. i said to the guy working that there were no rules, just send it through me and i will miss you. [laughter] this guy just looked at me and walked out. [laughter] it was a really good call. he knew he could not get involved in that. his place was to be out of the room at a time. he was good at that. the manager and i had a conversation later about what a good move that was. [laughter] i was calling me stuff out -- calling the stuff out. he would tell the appropriate aircraft in the area that it was a friendly. it was really pretty crazy. talking, when we're about a military response and
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the fighters over d.c. i do not think many people realize that the faa did not have compatible lines of communication with the military and norad that day. when they attempted to communicate they could not. you d not realize on that morning that the information going to the northeast and defense sector, who was coordinating our response for the northeastern part of the nine states, you did not realize that you were the only one givi them information about what aircraft were targets, which were hijacked, where they were, where they were suspect. you did not reali at the time that was the role you were playing. how did you get in that spot where you were giving them the information? how did it happen that you the only one giving them the information? >> when ient down to the
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floor, in the unique position i was in, i also work with the military all the time. i have a lot of letters of agreement with the military. i write a lauder letters about procedure in airspace. -- i write a lot of letters about procedure in airspace. i have probably dealt with the more than other facilities. others deal with them but not in the amount that i did. when i went to the floor and sat down at that position, one advantage i had was that the military has their own telephone system in defense switching network. i had t numbers numerous of the people i knew i needed to talk to. i had the number for the bottle cap, the aerospace manager, the i.t. section. i had those memorized. it was easy for me to dial in and call these people with what was going on. i had a lot of information
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coming in. they had started initial security telecom. when a anything passed over, i would immediately call them. after 20 or 30 minutes, i did not want to call them all the time. my assumption was that everyone was calling them and they were swamped with phone calls. i waited until i had informatio i would wait for a minute or two and decide to call them. i would call and give them more information. they kept telling me to keep calling and giving them all the information. at certain times, i did not want to bother them with that much. a lot of the information i gave them was good information. some of it was misinformation passed on to me through a telcon as well. they did get a lot of good information from me. i had a good relationship with the northeast air defense command and a lot of the military units. i had personally met some of the pilots. i go to the range cancel meeting
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every year. i meet them there. i get to deal with the airspace office. the pilot normally fills that job. it is probably a pilot it got in trouble and may make him the air space officefor a year. [laughter] they're not necessarily happy airspace officers, but that is their job. they do it for year. i have known lot of them personally. i had a good feeling calling and talking to the to give them the information. i made numerous calls that day. in the 9/11 commission questions, a lot of the things i did, i did go outside of the protocol, but we also complied with the protocol. my steps that morning were more direct. the protocol was a circumvented process that goes tough our region, through washington, to the military, to norad, backed down. i had a number for the last one
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and decided to call them myself. i requested to have them take some fighters out of atlantic city. they were no longer a scramble base of the time. at 9:00 evy morning, there were probably be a couple of aircraft out there. i asked them to try to divert them and come on over. i did a lot of that throughout that day. i was trying to get them to come back. since i made all of my numbers on the defense switching network, they are not recorded. they are reported on the other end. about three days after 9/11, they interviewed me in my office. they had me come down to the quality assurance office. they said they only had one call from me on the hot line. i told them i made phone calls. the asked where they were.
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i told them i put them on the dsn phone. i told them that we did not record them but others did and they could request the tapes. no one ever did. several years went by, i never t to him myself. the other controllers got to hear the statements and what they did. i had some problems dealing with it myself because i never got to hear what i said. ihought i did a gd job that day. i made a bunch of phone calls. i could not remember the order and made them in. it would have been nice to hear my tapes and hear what i said, maybe get a better understanding of what i did on that day. two years went by. the 11 commission was meeting. they're starting to put the time line together. the time line was not matching up. the military and faa kept having some issues. they could not seem match it up. somewhere, the department of justice decided to come out and interview people involved in 9/11.
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they came to interview me at boston center in 2003. they said they would interview me for about five minutes because i made one transmission. i told them i made like 40 transmissions. our five minute interview turned into about a 3 hour interview. a lot of things started setting up the time line a lot differently because of my conversations with the military that no one ha any copies of. they are out there. they ended up going to the northeast. defence command. they pulled the tapes. they listened to the tapes for the first time. i was surprised they still have them. they pulled the tape and came back in january 2004. i finally got to hear my tapes. i do not know if you want to call it closure are not, but i needed to hear this. i remember going home that day and sitting out by my frozen
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pool in new england with the snow. i sat there and had a couple of beers. i finally got to sit back and relax. i finally got to see what i had done that day. >> colin scrambled jets on that day in defense of our country. there's only one person in washington who has the ability of the faa side to request the military scramble jets. that is the hijack coordinator. they are still looking for him. [laughter] colin took it upon himself to think outside the box and get the job done that day. [applause] >> one of the things i learned early on in doing my research is that the news had misrepresented the fact that they did not even
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know where the alert site was in the recalling atlantic city to get them to scramble. i knew from talking to colin that he knew very well who our alert facility was. he also knew that atlantic city had their training mission every morning and that they were out flying and might be closer. they might be able to get to new york city faster. those phone calls that were being made happened very early on in the morning. that is very noteworthy in this kind of overlooked. -- that is very noteworthy and is kind of overlooked. i do not want to steal the floor by being the only one asking questions. we would like to open up the floor to questions from the audience. i would like to give the students at the university the
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opportunity to ask questions first. that will be followed by any of the members of the audience. please ask one question aa time. if you have more than one question and there are other people waiting, please let them ask the question first before you ask your second question. if you have any questions, step up to one of the microphonest the front of the room. let's see what is on your mind. can you go to the microphone to ask your question? >> i remember on that day, my dad works in downtown dallas. i remember having no clue if it was four airplanes or 400 airplanes and wind it would end. do you know if your actions in bringing all the airplanes to the ground might have prevented someone from hijacking of this
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or sixth airplane? is there any way to tell? >> i do not believe there is any evidence i have read of that indicated there were more aircraft. i did hear stories about some aircraft were they found box cutters in the overhead and things of that nature. i do n know of any official report of that nature. >> some of the station managers of the traffic control facilities and air crews, there was an american airlines flight that did not get off the ground because of the new takeoff order. the fbi interviewed the crew. they had a group of young middle eastern men in first class that morning.
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they returned to the gate. the fbi talked to the crew about 15 times. that was briefly covered in the news and then no more was heard about that. that was at jfk, i believe. it was jfk, a los angeles flight that morning. it is hard to know. one thing happening that morning that was very interesting is that as the planes were being sent backo the gates, they were being offloaded of all the passengersnd being pushed out of the airports being evacuated. the asked if they stopped the people from the american flight and arrested them at the gate. the airport was evacuating when the airplane that back to the gate. those people were being hustled from the airports and on to the streets as they were at airports
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across the country. they were quickly pushed out of the airports. >> in your book you mention operatio guardian program for that day. how much did that complicate things? they were expecting an exercise. they could have misunderstood. how did that complicate things or how long did it take to get it straightened out? >> that was very interesting. i think it was very fortuitous that vigilant guardian was going on that day. that meant that all of the senior commanders at norad were in the bottle cap -- battle cap when this occurred. these commanders came to the realization that we were under attack fairly quickly and
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canced the exercise. the net effect was that there was not confusion other tha 41st minute or two -- other than for the first minute or two. it was very fortuitous that they were all in their command positions because of the exercise. >> couple of times on a call that morning, the first thing out of their mouth was to ask if it was real world or an exercise. the northeast air defense command -- it was pretty much over with. after talking to the commander over there, he said that they were probably more prepared on that day because they had extra people due to the exercise. >> it is interesting listening to the tapes. there is no doubt that when the first calls started coming in about a hijacked airliner, they said the exercise was on and here we go. there is no doubt it took a while.
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on one of the tapes, you could tell they were responding as if it were real world, even at the beginning when they were not sure if it was real or not. at one point, they hear about the crash into the new york skyline. at one point, one of the weapons controller said to the guy next to him that if this is an uprcise, this is one f'd exercise. [laughter] >> you alluded to incoming flights from overseas. perhaps coming from europe. i am going to guess that some coming from europe were diverted to canada. once an airliner starts out over the pond with a point of no return, there had to be some complications. was there anything that turned out to be a problem?
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i know it was not simple. was theemedy to divert as many of those to canada as you could? did you turnome back? were there any glitches in that or someone got close to running out of fuel on the way across the land? >> those routes across the land in in the ocean are structured. they are required to have a certain amount of fuel in the event of emergency. they would have either gone back to europe or we have greenland, iceld, and the canadian provinces all the way down. i was not concerned about an aircraft getting to a place to land at all. i knew that our procedures in setting of the north atlantic tracks in this case provide for that contingency. >> the town of gander in
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newfouland, there is an interesting story on that. they hav5000 people. 10,000 people landed that day on 9/11. [laughter] the town doubled in size. the peoplen gander to all of these people into their houses. it was not like they have enough schools for them. everyone was taking to recruit people into their own homes. they had to keep them there for three or four days. -- everyone was taking two or three people into their own homes. they had to keep them there for three or four days. they did not want to break the airplanethat. they divided them up by neighborhoods so that when they had to pick them back up, they knew where to find them all for their airplanes. the town of gander was amazing, what they did. some landed in halifax. the town of gander took a lot of people.
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>> nbc in conjunction with the olympics broadcast a documentary that celebrated the humanity shown by those residents of the area. there was a tremendous outpouring. i am sure all of us can see in our mind's eye the queues of the aircraft sitting on the runways and the townspeople bringing these people into their homes. it was a tremendous display on the part of the canadians. i got a chance to personally thank them for that. i know they announced if i had any doubts about how to handle the air traffic. they handled it magnificently. -- i know they asked if i had any doubts about how to handle the air traffic. they handled it magnificently. >> that brings meo one of the things you told me when we were working on the book. you said it was actually not so hard to take them all down, but it was hard to put it all back together again.
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in talking about the airplanes coming in from overseas, there was one continental pilot that i spoke to. i only talked to him that day. i cannot talk about the cool stuff that happened later. there was a continental flight. when the flights were authorized to start taking off again and take off for the unitedtates, the flights diverted with the first authorized to continue on to the united states. it was began their flight, this continental flight. -- it was this gander flight, this continental flight. they were given very specific takeoff times. you have to take off at that time or forget it. the schedulers at continental airlines called the captain and told him he had been cleared to launch out of gander and had to
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be off by 10:28 in the morning. the captain said that given i am 90 miles from the airport and my crew and passengers are scattered all over newfoundland [no audio] 38 other aircraft blocking in my aircraft on the runway. [laughter] the whole system was turned upside down. theyad to work it back towards to get it all out. -- they have to work backwards to get it all out. >> it was tough to get it going again. as i told someone earlier today, the moment the last aircraft landed on 9/11, the command center was inundated with requests to fly. one i recall was the texas rangers -- not the baseball team.
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it was the highway patrol, the rangers. they needed to fly a helicopter to an accident site to get to a person who was badly injured. and looked at the specialist asking me to give permission for the helicopter to go get this person who was injured and wondered how i could possibly say no. t i was terrified that anything that got airborne like it shut down. i figured a low level helicopter in texas, go for it. [laughte everyone was looking up in the northeast at that time. >> can you discuss the difficulty about communicating between the organizations? what changes have you made
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sense? since? >> what has to be set as have the faa coordinate's with norad now is completely different. the faa has changed top to bottom out all of that is done with decision makers in the loop. every facility in the nation is on at 24/7 conference call. everyone knows what is going on. there's all sorts of other stuff we cannot get into that is very impressive. one of the frustrating things that my facility -- at my facility was that i could not talk to norad directly. our phone lines were jammed with people calling wanting to make sure that their parents or kids were ok. at one point, it is shocking about the speaker phone was the
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best way to talk to them. it took them a few lines. today's to wire this and position. alof that has changed now. i do not foree aommunication problem or lack of information for decision makers in the loop problem ever again. thfaa and the dot have done a good job of changing that. >> did have been -- the domestic network he is talking about is a telecommunications network of people with the military, customs, the dea, homeland defense. everyone is now co-located in the room in washington, d.c., where this has been going on 24/7 cents 9/11.
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we have improved dramatically our ability to communicate. the protocols of the past called for the aviation community was one of cooperation to try to prolong the situation, get them to land, exchange passengers, listen to the demands. we knew from experience that the long grip on hijacking went on, the more likely it would be that it would and benignly -- end benignly. now, all the protocols of changed for dealing with hijackings. >> i want to acknowledge each of you for the heroism that you exhibited. [applause]
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your ability to find the focus to concentrate and execute your jobs with the level of perfection that nobody ever would have called on you to perform and your ability to show the ingenuity to step outside the box and your ultimate commitment to the safety of ves and america is just remarkable. we owe each of you an extreme debtf gratitude. thank you very much. [applause] >> there must have been a moment for each of you at some point where you felt like you could say that the crisis is over, the immediate problem has been addressed and we m have a second to take a breath. i wonder what that moment was like for each of you. what was yr next thought?
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>> to be honest with you, i was not comfortable until the next day. the pentagon was hit at 9:37 a.m.. the next thing i knew, it was 9:00 at night. the washington area was under control. the fighter cap and resources above the capital were under control. there was a handful of aircraft we did not know the status of. the ones coming in overseas was a whole different apartment. i got home. i was comfortable that night. i would sleep well because we were safe. for me, it was not until the next day when everything was over. -- i knew i would sleep well because we were safe. for me, it was not until the next day when everything was over. >> for me, it has never ended. i do not look and aircra the same way. i have been seeing aircraft my
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whole life. i am seldom if ever turning my head to watch an airplane go by. that has changed. i watch them on them. i think it changed america's perception of aviation and what goes on in the skies. on that day when we directed them all to land, that was some kind of closure but it really was not. a recall of japan airlines flight up in alaska that nearly got shut down -- shot down because of a radio problem. we were not sure it was over when the last aircraft landed. to this day, it has changed my perception of aviion and how i think about what is going on. i do feel it is up to everyone
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of us to prevent this type of terrorism from happening again. i think we have seen that demonstrated by stories in the press of passengers on airplanes overwhelming a potential hijackers or someone who wanted to disrupt the flight and taking matters into their own hands. there are airport procedures to prevent people from getting on the airplanes with anything more dangerous -- you cannot bring a bottle of water on board. they have changed considerably from the protocols before 9/11. it is up to all of us to keep our eyes and ears open. as ty say in new york, "if you see something, say something." >> i started feeling more comfortable when all of the airplanes were down over boston. some of the east centers got their aircraft down sooner than the west coast. i started feeling better than.
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then we had a lot of military coming off t ground. i felt better. i was still listening in on the telecons to other parts of the country landing airplanes. there was a conversation going on. e base commander said that if you land here, you will get shot down. the guy had to go somewhere else. that was the way it was. the day went on for a long time. i got home about 8:00. that was the first time i saw anything on tv. and i went back in at midnight and work another 12 for 14 hours the next day. the next day i felt a lot better. we watched the fighters got an intercept. there was a lot more to be done. there was a lot of coordination on helicopters and relief try to get to the tower. at that time, people were still
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hoping they would pull hundreds of people out of the towers. over the next few days, we realized they were not going to find hardly any survivors at all. the whole system has changed. it is not the same as it used to be. never will be. we have a lot more protocols and things in place to take care of what would happen today. >> i want to express my appreciation personally to all of you for doing your duty and doing it well. mr. sliney, especially, for your timely and completely independent order to shut down in u.s. airspace. did you have any resistance to that -- other than from the texas rangers? did you get any flak for that later since it was apparently an independent decision? >> the answer is no, i got no
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flak for that. i am reminded of the individual from the communications headquarters. he called me over and said i would love this. he said they want us to land everyone. i looked at him. he saii told them we have already done that. he asked who did that. he demanded pete -- he said they demanded to know who gave me a 40 to do that. he said they called back 20 minutes later and demanded to know why i had not done it sooner. [laughter] being an old hand at government service, i was not even surprised that the turn of events -- at the turn of events. [laughter] >> i want to know how it changed the training for aviation altogether in case of another emergency.
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like how prepared is the aviation team now compared to the attacks before september 11? is there more training with the psychological state of each personnel? did that not even occur? you are able to separate yourself for the time to take care of the situation at hand before you dealt with the psychological issues? i think i got your question, but please clarify. the training for air traffic controllers and management has changed completely in terms of how we deal with potential hijackings. it used to be an annual refresher that we would blow off. it is now a serious thing that we look at. how it is handled is completely different.
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>> how each individual psychological can break or completely take over -- the fight or flight syndrome. is there any more training with the psychological? >> not really. air traffic controllers are kind of a unique personality. [laughter] i have been a controller for 20 years. we are all the same. we really e. not really. there are a lot of type a personalities. as far as dealing with the emotional aspect -- >> we try to get the crazy ones. [lghter] >> there are some differences. you have some controllers that are very anal, but still very aggressive. they're mostly aggressive type people.
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i worked in an office -- i work in an office. i have probably 12 stacks of paper around me. i can barely see my computer monitor. the controller next to me is completely spotless and gets upset if a piece of paper falls on his desk. different types of people. the reality is we all like to be in control. that is probably the biggest thing. i think everyone is more aware now than they used to be. they're more responsive if something were to go wrong. any emergency now is treated much differently than it used to be. it does not matter what the emergency is. it goes over the domestic defense network. everyone in the country knows you have a problem at boston center, even out in l.a., because everyone is listening in. there is no additional training that i am aware of. the personalities have not changed. there the same that they have always been. >> when you look nationwide at
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the feat accomplished when nearly five dozen aircraft landed without incident. the controllers were in new york, boston, washington when this was occurring. the pilots in command of these 4500 aircraft. i think the performance on that day demonstrates that their training was sufficient. i think the emotional load and the psychological consequences for some of the pilots and controllers, there were some that never returned to work after 9/11. there is no doubt that it took its toll on the psyche. i think we are done for now. questions? join me in thanking this group of panelists. [applause]
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>> we are going to take about a 15minute break. we will return to hear from the pilots that were in the air that day. wait, i forgot to tell you. for those of you interested in reading more, the u t dallas bookstore will be selling the books right outside here. there will be a book signing afterwards. it is kind of like a pop-up book. you have all of the characters here. [laughter]
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>> now we will hear from pilots reporting about their experiences. this panel from the university of texas at dallas is about 20 minutes. >> wel >> welcome back. please take your seat so we can stay on time. please turn off your cell phones. -- we seem to use these breaks to talk on them. we are now going to welcome the pilots. [applause] >> i know that you really want to talk to them and not hear from me. i will not be too wordy in might lead into the panel. i do want to cover two areas that i think need to be backdropped as we hear from the pilots. the first has to do with the
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professional pilots and how we're trained, what we expect, and what we do not expect. pilots have to have check rides every six months to a year to show that we can fly to the same abilities we could when we were first certificated. there are not many professions out there with that, but the proficiency is very high because of that. when pilots take these rides -- none of this has to do with flying that goes along with flying not playing. it has to do its -- flying that plane. it has to do with how you deal with enemies and how you deal
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with emergencies. we trained to such an extent that emergencies are another set of procedures to follow. there is so little that is unpredictable for a pilot because all of our training centers on being prepared for everything conceivable. that is important to keep in mind. one of the things that -- we did not spend a whole lot of time training prior to 9/11 on hijacking. it was part of the training, but in the 500-page manuals that address our training, may be only a couple of pages had to do with hijacking and they were not suicide hijackings, but the more traditional kind that the controllers were referencing earlier. keep that in mind as you hear from these pilots. none of that training prepared them to be in a situation where they found themselves on 9/11
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where their aircraft were at risk for being hijacked and used as misfiles -- missiles against our own nation. the second backdrop i would like to paint is that of our military air defense on september 11, 2001. it was a different air defense than had been present 30 years earlier. at the height of the cold war, we had 175 jets armed and prepared to launch at a moment's notice. on september 11, we had 10 armed fighters for all of the continental united states, and only four of those were in the northeast portion of the united states. by northeast, i am not talking about new england, i am talking
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about east of the mississippi and above the mason-dixon line. there were four fighters on alert and prepared to defend. although there might be military facilities throughout our country, maybe in a town near you, they may have fighter squadrons. those fighter squadrons, unless they are one of those alert facilities -- they trained to deployed overseas. they were not part of the air defense mission and were not charged with the air defense of the united states. i just want to set those two things as the backdrop as we hear from these people. i would like it introduced colonel dan caine, who was an f- 16 fighter pilot and the supervisor of flying at the 121st fighter squadron at
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andrews air force base on 9/11. capt. gerald earwood, an airline pilot flying midwest express flight 7 into new york city on 9/11. colonel joe mcgrady, an f-15 fighter pilot, one of the air defense pilots that i referred to two, one of the alert pilots -- referred to, one of the alert pilots on cape cod. and captain chuck savall, another airline captain of the midwest express flight that was airborne on 9/11 and did not arrive at its intended destination. without further delay, i would like to give you all of the opportunity to make opening comments. >> thanks, lynn.
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first, let me say it is a tremendous honor to be here with the colleagues in the first panel. let me thank you for your leadership in your service on a bad, bad day. you made my life and joe's life a lot easier with being proactive and not reactive. thank you. it is an honor to be here with the school. thank you to the staff for putting this together. i do not think anyone else could have done a better job of putting this timeline together. it is worth reading. to my teammates to my left, it is an honor. joe and i have known each other for a long time. long before 9/11. i am the godfather of his oldest kid. if i would have known where he was, i would have been a lot more relaxed. lynn asked us to give an overview of what our roles were
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on 9/11. i'm a lieutenant-colonel in the d.c. air national guard and an at-16 fighter pilot there. on 9/11, my job was to be the lucky guy who got to go the fighter weapons school. the air force fighter weapons school is a lot longer, a lot harder, and we do not have volleyball like "top gun." [laughter] what that means is i am the squadron's chief tactician in chief instructor. i fly with the new guys, the old guys. i am the chief tactical adviser to the command structure. on september 11, i was not scheduled to fly initially. i was the supervisor of flying that morning, means i was to check the weather and make sure the guys launched ok and that we
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operated a safe and effective flying program. we were not an alert program. we were not one of the four programs that had airplanes sitting on alert. we had just reform from an air force base in nevada as we prepared to deploy it operation southern watch, the southern no- fly zone that we protect. we are now an air defense unit. you can rest assured that, as we sit here, my teammates are sitting just minutes away from airplanes who were there 24/7, 365. our unit, in particular, has been nonstop on alert since 911 -- 9/11. in the snow, the rain, on christmas -- trying to keep everybody safe and prevent that again. i was not scheduled to fly that morning. ultimately, any of you that read lynn's book will find out that the air defense structure did not reach down into the
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washington, d.c., traffic area. we got scrambled in a very nontraditional way. we had a very close relationship with the secret service, due to the location of where we fly at andrews. our scramble order came from the highest levels of government to get everything we could airborne. i shifted gears and stop being the supervisor flying and grab the nearest women that i could. we briefed and we went out and flew -- nearest wingman that i could. we briefed and then we went out and flew. in a couple of weeks, i deployed. that was a good thing. i went to afghanistan. i thank you for the opportunity. i look forward to hearing what these great americans to my left have to say. thank you.
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>> name is gerald earwood. on the morning of september 11, 2001, i was flying milwaukee to new york laguardia. hijacked united 175 came through my back door. i was ordered to take evasive action for the aircraft. i witnessed the disaster straight-on. folks, you had to be there. i looked at it for my cockpit window. i saw both towers on fire. i never saw flight 175, but i did see the aftermath. america needs to remember what we saw that morning. these gentlemen here, the controllers did what they could.
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it was mass confusion. we landed probably 20 minutes after the second tower was hit. two days later, i was captain of the first aircraft to leave new york. that is my story. i share nothing with these to do fine military pilots who were protecting us these days -- those days. there is no way to explain how grateful we were to see them flying over the top of us. that is all i have right now. >> good afternoon. i am lieutenant colonel joe mcgrady, currently part of the 102nd wing. we were and f-15 squadron team
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-- an f-15 squadron team before some reassignments. thank you to everyone at the university of texas, dallas. your hospitality has been amazing. thank you to the other panelists for everything you did that morning. my role was in the cockpit of an f-15. i was scheduled to fly a training mission that morning. it was a beautiful, beautiful day. we were taxiing out. he firstre taxiing, te twa aircraft that went down to new york -- two aircraft that went down to new york on it immediate alert status were scrambled. as soon as they started up, we got word on the radio that there
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was a possible hijack of an american airlines 737. that was the first time we knew something was going on. we never dreamed it would be what unfolded. i was number one for take off with my wingman. we were going to do a training mission south of cape cod. our alert jets -- the first two that are down to new york -- that went down to new york took off, then we took off. there's a lot of chatter about what was going on -- about an american jet flying into the world trade center. as an american airlines pilot and a 30 -- and a 737 pilot, it
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was kind of odd for me. immediately after we got into the area, we were called back to base. we landed as soon as we could and reported to setup our cockpits for alert. we looked all the switches so that we would be ready to ready to-- flipped all the switches so that we would be ready to take off anytime. i ran into the squadron, there were six of us there for training that morning. we all landed and ran inside to breakroom.v in our we saw the towers. we knew we had two jets down in new york. at that piont, our squadron -- that point, our squadron
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commander brought us together and told us that two aircraft were hijacked and that is what was believed to have happened at the world trade center, and that there were more. we were getting word that there could be more. we're told that, if need be, we would have to engage and take art and airliner. that was -- and take out an air liner, which was a horrific thought. after that, a scramble order was issued. the technicians said we needed to get everything airborne as soon as we can. we ran out the door. i ran to our jets. i started up. we knew there were threats out there that we need to engage. i was one of the first two to taxi. we realized we did not have any
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weapons. it is filled up our jets with gas. -- they just filled up our jets with gas. we're told we had to go. even though we were a winchester, which means we had no weapons, we took off. we got airborne and we proceeded for about 106 miles, not really sure what it was. we were thinking we would have to engage the aircraft without any weapons. it did not happen to be a threat. it ended up being four a-10's that colin talked about earlier. we were ordered over downtown boston and we spent the next six
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hours setting up the north cap over boston. that is a good chunk of my day. i would be more than happy to expand on it and answer any questions about that day. >> my name is chuck savall. i would like to thank these two fighter pilots for what they did that day and what they would have been willing to do if they had had to. if you did not get that, joe was going to take off without weapons and half to take down an airplane. the odds of him dying while doing that were extremely high. my personal role -- i was the captain of the midwest express flight from the walkie to new work, -- from milwaukee to newark. we were only 10 miles apart.
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we were right behind them. we descended into newark on a normal and beautiful morning. we got into a holding pattern, which you normally get in bad weather. sometimes if there is a lot of traffic, you get those on a nice day. we asked the controller why we were getting the holding pattern in he would not tell us, which is very unusual -- and he would not tell us, which is very unusual. that was my first clue something was very wrong. we were setting up a holding pattern. while we were holding, we heard another airline pilot on the radio say, we just heard something about a plane hitting the road trade center appeared we were 25 miles away. i looked -- hitting the world trade center. we were 25 miles away. i looked out the window. the second tower had just been hit. we saw the flames and smoke. we did not know it was an airplane. we thought it was an explosion.
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from what we heard, it was an airplane that the world trade center. we did not know the extent of what was going on. we asked the controller again, why are we in a holding pattern? he said, something big is going on in new york and i cannot tell you about it. it was getting a little unusual. at that point, pilots -- we had to figure out our plan b -- how much fuel we have and where we could go. our initial thought was going to look guardia -- la guardia. our dispatchers were watching this on cnn. they told us to get as far from the east coast as we possibly could. so that is what we did. we headed for cleveland. [laughter] not sure why that is funny come we headed for cleveland.
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that is all the fuel we had so that is where we could land safely. we were discussing what to do as far as security. we were still unsure as to what was going on. my first officer tuned up the local a.m. radio station and that was the best communication information we had that morning. we heard about the pentagon. we have a lot of incorrect information -- heard a lot of incorrect information. we knew how bad things were. i made an announcement to the passengers to let them know that we would try to get them on the ground safe. on the way to cleveland, we were heading right for flight 93. our courses were pretty much head-on. they made us emergency descent
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and landing in pittsburgh. by the time we got there, the airport had been evacuated. we had someone in the tower who had not left his post. i still do not know who he was pretty said, you can land if you want to, but you are on your own -- i still do not -- i still do not know who he was. he said, you can land if you want to, but you are on your own. after that, it was pretty uneventful. [laughter] >> thank you. there is criticism after the attack that the military was slow to respond. why did they not shoot down american 11 and united 175? how do you respond to that? >> carefully. [laughter]
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i think the reality is, in the pre-9/11 environment we were mostly focused on threats out word -- outward. we did not candidly anticipate this kind of attack could be mounted against america. we did not look inward. the airplanes that were set up at the time work drive toward the water and stop any threat access from their -- were set up at the time were to drive toward the water and stop any threat access from there. there have been improvements since then, which is a good thing. as i said, we have airlines -- air planes sitting on the work now in washington, d.c., and we
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did not have that on 9/11. i do not think there'll be another situation like that. >> additionally, if you remember, ben earlier said from the first to the last one, it was approximately 70 minutes. we had to kook armed aircraft that launched -- two armed aircraft that launched out of the northeast. the timing and the time frame logistically of that happening -- timeframe logistically of that happening were kind of an issue. >> it was those fighters who had responded to the lufthansa hijacking. they had gone out and followed it and sat overhead jfk when it
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landed. some of the same alert pilots that had scrambled to new york had worked at hijack. -- worked that hijack. would there have been any reason for them to have suddenly shot down that aircraft? they could get shot down not lufthansa -- that lufthansa, too. >> the events of 9/11 were unbelievable. i do not think it was ever thought of where the military air defense fighter would engage and shoot down a civilian airliner filled with people. the rules changed that day. >> but you had been trained to
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deal with hijackings. >> you have to think in context. as we were watching the first hour burn and the airplane -- the second one came into view -- there was complete silence. there was absolutely no doubt in anybody's mind in that fire squadron -- fighter squadron that we were under attack. all of your planning assumptions get jettisons at that point and you start handling the nearest threat. i mean, it would not have been easy to shoot an airliner, but let me rest -- put to bed any concerns that we were all willing to do that. whether or not you would follow an airplane -- we had some very good conversations with airplanes that day, with one
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airplane about four-feet off of their wing, tried to determine whether or not this guy was guyor not. -- whether or not this guy was friendly or not. we were trying to prevent confusion. >> it sounds like you all were not -- this is not very different from some of the common sense lines. he did not make the connection of the hijack and what he saw in the tower at first. it sounds like you all did not make the immediate connection that these were suicide hijackings until sometime between after 11:00 -- after 11 and 175 struck. >> the first airplane going into the tower hit before our first
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two armed jets got to the new york area. i do not know it was pieced together during that time. there was a lot of confusion. it was not long after when it was figured out that it was an attack. in my case, instantly taking off right after the alert jets, then getting recalled right away, landing, running inside. in that short amount of time, i was told that i might have to go -- the game changed instantly, right there. something that we would never think of doing before, we were suddenly being told that we needed to be prepared to do this. that was in a very short i timeframe and -- in a very short timeframe and then we were running out the door. the initial responders -- i
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remember when they got scrambled on the hijack. we thought that was neat and exciting. they got to do something for real. you do not often get a tasking when you were on alert for real- world tasking. you can sit alert for two years and might not get scrambled on a real-world tasking. >> before 9/11. >> correct. [laughter] when those initial responders took the wrong way to go, i was thinking, -- took the runway to go, i was thinking, all right, go do it. not shoot down an airliner, because that was the farthest thing from my mind. it was just exciting to be scrambled. an hour later, then being told
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we might need to engage an airliner. what we said, that's had to do. in our squadron, that was the thing we had to do, protect our nation. we kind of knew what was going on. when we get ordered to do something, we authenticate, then we do it. if we had, god forbid, taken out an airliner, then that is what it was going to be. >> they thought you were heading toward a target when you headed out. if you had had to take out that target, as you were thinking while flying out there, what was your plan? >> it was -- that was -- that
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short window in my life was incredibly difficult. basically, i thought about, if i had to do that, taking out the tail or maybe the cockpit and then trying to be able to hit the airplane in a way that i could eject and save myself. it was just a terrible, terrible feeling trying to figure it out and wondering whether i would survive or should just take it out completely, go for the engine or the wing. you know, it was not -- and thankfully, that did not happen. but that -- like i said, in that short amount of time, that is what we thought might have to happen. we were -- if we were ordered to
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do that, that is what we would have to do. >> gerald, your circumstances are very different, in that you almost had a midair with 175. you did not have the awareness that some of these other panelists had about what was happening. you just knew that you had a very excited comptroller trying to prevent a mid-air -- controller trying to prevent a midair. you spoke in your opening comments that you were the first to take off from new york when it was allowed. i know some pilots who never went back to flying and they did not have midairs. what was that like?
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>> to be honest, leaving new york -- i was more afraid leaving new york than the actual event of the near midair. i was very concerned about terrorist around the perimeter of the airport. we had 35 script -- 35 stranded and crewmembers -- 35 stranded crew members in new york. new york was a ghost town. there were armed guards with m- 16 and machine guns. they opened up the airport especially for us. we had to go through extensive security -- you think it is bad now. [laughter] they wanted to -- well -- we went through two extensive screenings. [laughter] >> it's ok. [laughter] >> like i said, that was the
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worst part. i was escorted down to the aircraft. as captain, i was the only one allowed to the aircraft, escorted by local and federal law enforcement. i had to perform an inspection around the aircraft, a bomb inspection with the local law enforcement and the fbi observing everything i did. i would open up a panel, read the checklist, look into the hole, step back, and that three more people do the exact same thing -- let three more people do the exact same thing. it probably took about 30 minutes to do something that usually takes five or 10 minutes. we loaded everyone up. ground crew looked up to the aircraft. we started to push back. the ground controller called and said, we hate to tell you this, but there has been a bomb
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threat against your aircraft. you need to evacuate. so, i picked up the p.a. and turned to the 35 crew members who wanted to get home and said, you aren't going to believe this, but we have a bomb threat and we have to evacuate. everyone, evacuated the aircraft and walked out onto the -- everyone calmly evacuated aircraft and walked out on to the runway. at that moment, one of our military aircraft flew over, and i got our attention. [laughter] -- that got our attention. when we got back on the aircraft and we were taxiing out, our friends from the military made another pass just as we were taxiing out.
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i told my first officer, i hope the military knows we are coming. [laughter] he said, me, too. they made a low pass. i remember the missiles struck on the bottom of the wings as you guys came over the top of us. i called and asked to the tower, confirm with us that the military knows that we're about to be airborne here. he said, hang on a minute. [laughter] he came back and said, yeah, they know you are coming. he said, make some noise getting out of here. what he did not know -- i had discussed this with my bosses and my first officer that, on a jet engine, on a dc-9, you go to a certain set temperature when you are preparing to take off.
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we all always did what was called a reduced-power takeoff. i said, not today. if they say anything, we are firewalling our engines. i advised air crew that it would be a roller coaster ride. we pitched off straight ahead. usually, of of that particular run way -- off of that particular runway, they turn you northwest. that day, they send us right over the world trade center. i had never been there. it was moving. -- it was very moving. the air traffic controllers were
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grateful that we were out. they had been talking to nothing but military for 48 hours. we chatted all the way to milwaukee. as far as giving up flying, it was never crossed my mind. it has been what i've done since i was 17 years old and was not going to let these people scare me out of my life. [applause] >> chuck. do you -- you talked a little bit about the fact that you really did not know what the threat was to your aircraft. i have often said that an airline pilot has a protective since -- sense over his or he r aircraft and passengers, not
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unlike a parent to their children. on that day, you had a lot of information, even though it did not feel like much. you knew there was a threat, probably the terrorist threat. what actions did you take knowing that? what was going through your mind? >> we are taught from our original hijacking training that, the quicker you get on the ground, the better. the safest places on the ground. that was what our mission became. we also had the new york controllers telling us to get out of here. we wanted the land as quickly as we could, but they would not let us. it was a conflict of interest, how quickly can we get out of the ground and get out of the way. we knew that the faster we got out of the sky, the quicker we
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would be saved. there was then the concern about landing at a major airport that we would be overtaken by terrorists. my first officer and i actually discussed lending at cleveland's -- landing at cleveland's general aviation airport, which is not a commercial airport. we thought we would get on the ground, park the airplane, and hoped there would be no terrorists. we did not have the choice. when we were told to land at pittsburgh, it was not a choice, but in order. -- an order. we talked earlier about this being part of the air defense missions at andrews and the 121st was not and about the
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fact that, on that day, we had only 10 aircraft that were armed and on alert for the entire continental united states, i think it was 14 for the entire united states. yet, within a matter of hours, very quickly that morning, we had combat air patrol over every major american city, including over washington, d.c., one of the first up, even though you were not part of the air defense mission. can you speak about how that happened? >> how we put it together? >> we only had 10 air defense aircraft, but then how did we have all of these other aircraft up over every major city? >> team america. [laughter] the nation needed america to
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respond. to every fighter squadron in the country, there were clear and unambiguous needs. we would sort out the control structure later on, thanks to folks like dan creedon over there from tracon. it was clear what needed to be done. sorting out the command-and- control structure became a challenge in some places like washington. the ground control intercept folks -- a fighter radar can only see a certain distance, 60 to 80 miles. as the cap commander, i wanted to see much further than that. poor dan creedon gets paired up with dan caine who is asking for very specific information as fast as he can get. to his credit, he acted quickly.
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it they did in amazing and extraordinary things on nine -- the ground controllers did amazing and extraordinary things on 9/11. the responded with honor and professionalism beyond anything i can communicate -- they responded with honor and professionalism beyond anything i can communicate to you. they gave us situational awareness. on a day like 9/11, whether you are a fighter pilot or an air traffic controller -- the thing you want is situational awareness. you want to make the best decisions you can with the information you have. thanks to the response of these folks, we were able to get as much situational awareness as we could. it is not like that anymore. the country is set up much better in architecture and in
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training. i can take off out of andrews. i can get scrambled from my shelter and talk to new york now. we are much better prepared. it is a long distance from 500 feet over d.c. >> i wholeheartedly agree with everything you said, but i want to answer in a different way. you are asking about the amount of caps that got up so quickly. it is definitely a tribute to everyone on the ground -- everything that makes a fighter what it is. it was the most amazing thing.
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when i landed six hours later, we were at war. -- in a a cubunch of guard unit, it is a handful of folks. on the weekend, it quadruples in size of manpower. the folks on the ground, all of the fighter squadrons, it is a true testament to their abilities, their work, their dedication. we had, i think it was 14 or 16 jets fully loaded in a wartime configuration within hours of the first attack, by the end of that afternoon or early evening. i stayed on.
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we would start them up, make sure they worked, then sign them off. we went into 24/7 combat air patrols -- c.a.p.'s. we had four fighters airborne 24 hours a day. >> for 40 days. >> even after that. it was a continuous operation that most of the national guard units took on. it is just a tribute to all the personnel in our wing from the youngest airmen, to the most senior, to the whole team. >> when you mobilize the guard
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in our country, thanks to the constitution, you are really mobilizing america. the citizen soldiers answered the call on that day and are still doing so today. it is 12:45 in afghanistan and men and women from the active component of the guard are getting on their body armor to go out in the darkness to prevent another 9/11. it is a proud honor for us to be part of the air national guard and the national guard, which is really all of us -- citizen soldiers that answered the call to serve. >> in doing research and talking to some of the wing commanders, when colin had called over to lead the city and asked them if they could get some fighters
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airborne -- to atlantic city and ask them if they could get some fighters airborne -- when he started to form his jets, one of -- arm his jets, one of his staff saigave him pushback. he said, just do it. he turned, they loaded the weapons. i said, on whose wuthority -- authority were they going to launch these weapons when they weren't part of the air defense mission? he explained that as an error in march -- air national guard unit you work for the state. the governor of the state and trust me with this duty to protect. under that of 40, i will lean forward and get my asset -- that authority, i will lean
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forward and get my assets up in the air. i will protect. a force multiplier effect of having that ability. it was fascinating. >> folks, the other thing to remember is you could not keep people from trying to get to the guard base. airline pilots who were stuck out were doing anything they could get back to base. maintenance folks -- anyone, everyone was just coming through. whether they were needed or not, they were on their way into the base to help out. it was just a tremendous feat. we're getting some attention right now, but it was really not just us. it was everything behind us supporting us. >> i have a question for you,
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dan. you mention the air traffic controllers are in the business of keeping aircraft apart. you needed them to do something different. you were doing some teaching on the spot that morning. in some of the earlier comments, joe mentioned he had a very specific way to respond to any authorization to engage. how were you working with not only air traffic control to get what you needed, but with some of the air defense fighters that had totally different rules of engagement? how did that work? >> thankfully, the weapons school teaches you to be a herder. it was organized chaos.
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when we launched, i still remember the generator coming on line and the radars -- coming online and the radios going crazy. all i heard was that anybody within 25 nautical miles of washington, d.c., will be show down. my first thought was, -- will be shot down. my first thought was, i am not going down there. [laughter] i took over the c.a.p. given the very clear and unambiguous rules of engagement that our particular unit had, we realized we needed help from the guys who could see longer distances than i could with my fighter radar. i eventually landed on washington tracon's frequency.
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initially, our problem was one of sorting. we had many contacts who were in and around the range from the national command authority that met certain triggers. we needed to sort through those. each one initially required me to fly my airplane into an intercept on them. my first intercept was about 25 or 30 seconds after takeoff. i said, that is going to be a bad day, the one right over d.c. we have some tactics. there is a common reference point which is a great tactic and allows us to move everyone's situational awareness to the same thing. we chose reagan national,
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something i knew was in the system. i said, let's use reagan and we'll call it bulls'-eye. we will go with distance and direction off of that. we came with ways to sort traffic. if they were responsive to what we were saying on the radio, we knew they were friendly folks. dan would move them out and not be my problem. if they were not talking to him or they were below a certain altitude, we either called them unknown or suspect. we would commit and asset -- an asset to visually i.d. and determine whether it was a helicopter, medevac, airliner -- somebody who just did not get the word.
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they just did a great job helping us out with that. our best friend that day was actually the self-protection flare. we normally carry these flares that detect heat seeking missiles. they are great attention getters. especially if you are a helicopter with an f-16 above you. they are very convincing. we relied upon proven tactics. we set those in place. the concept of being proactive, not reactive. eliminating the variables that we had to deal with. minimizing the tactical problem that we faced. when in doubt, make a decision.
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the worst thing we could have done was not make a decision. as commander, i was determined to make proactive, not reactive, decisions to shape the environment and set the conditions for success, whether that was commit airplanes earlier, chunk flares out, get on the guard frequency and start asking for a tanker -- which showed up miraculously. that is another great story about american patriotism on patriot day. >> thank you. you mentioned the shoot-down authority and authorization. norad did not issue a blanket shoot-down authority. commanders there may very well- thought out -- made the very
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decisionught out that they would look at things individually. your orders were different in d.c. can you tell us more about the orders you had? far, weut going too had very liberal orders. i had the decision -- the ability to make airborne decisions unilaterally. those came directly to us from pretty high in government. we knew that we had very strict criteria, but when that criteria was met, the onus was on us to make the right decision. in a quick side bar, our wing commander, who tragically
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passed away in the metro accident in washington, d.c., last summer. i handed him the phone to talk to the high levels of government to get the rules of engagement. as we running out to the airplanes, he walked through the rules of engagement in handed me the piece of paper to read. you want to hear something great from your boss. he said, dan, i trust you. you are going to make the right decision. that stands out as a great example of leadership under stress. here is a guy sending a punk kid out there and he said, i'll back you to the hilt. >> when you mentioned to the general, one of the very touching things when i interviewed him, he was talking
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about this phone call that he received from the presidential emergency operations center, from a secret service agent that was telling him to basically shoot down any aircraft that got within a certain distance of washington, d.c. given the military chain of command, those orders have to come directly from the president. he said he did not feel really great about taking a shootdown order of a civilian airliner from a secret service agent. he said, may i speak with the vice president? he said, no, the vice-president is on the phone with the president. he said, is there anybody else there that i can speak to? [laughter] they said, no.
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this is what you are being ordered to do. he said he felt like he was the doctor are riding on the scene of an accident. he knew his -- arriving on the scene of an accident. he knew his resources. how could he say no? he knew he was putting his career on the line by taking such an order out side of the military chain of command. i give him much credit. there were a lot of individuals who put their lives or careers on the line in making similar decisions like that to respond in the unusual circumstance. i just wanted to add that. it was very powerful to me to hear that. he said he was relieved later on when the officials fax came through. that was 1:00 or 2:00. >> me, too. >> i wanted to be able to open
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this panel to questions from the audience. you're going to follow the same format. i would ask you to come to the microphones. we will give students the opportunity to ask questions first. let's move into those questions. while we are waiting for anybody with questions to get to the microphone, i do want to ask you all, are we better prepared today? >> yes. >> let's go down the panel and get your thoughts. thank you, dan. >> yes, absolutely. it was a way of call, not only for the country, but for the world -- wake-up call, not only for the country, but for the
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world. >> the planes are armed. the communications infrastructure has improved. at the interagency ability to communicate between intelligence, law-enforcement, military components -- it is much tighter. we have a network which is a 24- hour, 365-day conference call that is always going. somebody cannot be off-setting by three degrees and they are not talking about it. the sleeping giant has been awakened, if you will, at least in that part of our transportation sector. i think we are much better prepared. >> i agree. >> i just had a quick question.
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why is it we do have a transponder that can be turned off in the cabin? why does that capability not just when the plane is turned on, it is turned on, when the plane is turned off, it is turned off? >> any of them being turned on and off could affect the safety of aircraft. just like any >> when we are taxiing, you don't want your transponder on because the transponder is connected with a system that basically gives you advisories' of your proximity to the other aircraft. you don't want to be taxing 30 or 40 feet from all these other aircraft. it would be very loud in the
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cockpit. [laughter] generally you don't even turn on your transponder. it cannot be safely on on the ground. you don't turn it on until just before you take off. obviously it was used against us on september 11, the fact that they could turn their transponder's off and make themselves partly in visible except for primary radar. >> i really had this question for the first panel, but in discussing the diversion of the aircraft within a 60 mile radius of washington, or it that included new york, in retrospect, do you think it would have been better to have gotten those airplanes on the ground at the final destination for those on file, in consideration that any aircraft that was being controlled by terrorists would not respond anyway, and it seems to me like
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the resulting chaos that occurred after this diversion of airplanes and lack of being able to assist them to get to a destination airport, and for example, where fuel became critical and had to land where it landed, in retrospect, was there any consideration to in the future allowing the aircraft to go ahead and land at their destination airport? >> no, to be honest with you, [unintelligible] at thewe did not know that at te time. not that we had time to think about that, but now that we do,
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the answer is yes. we were just doing the best we could on that particular day. >> being right there in new york, which both towers on fire, everyone was considered a threat. we were asked probably 15 or 20 times, are you still with us? are you still with us? they were not sure -- these guys will tell you here, they were not sure who was what, where was where, in our situation. i would say -- i would not say they forgot about us, but there
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were times that we felt like we were forgotten about, because they blew us east of the airport, probably 60 miles before they turned us back -- flew us east of the airport, and all the time asking, are you still with us? it was just total mass confusion all over. >> i wanted to thank the four of you for your actions that day and what you continue to do for us. i question is for the commercial pilot. i was wondering how you decided to tell the passengers what was going on. did you consider lying to them? [laughter] a small bump in the aircraft, you know. >> that would be a hard-line to cover up. the best policy was just to be honest with them. they are all in a life-and-death situation, and had every right to know that.
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the moment that i knew that everyone's life was somewhat in danger and at risk, i let them know. i tell them, as far as i know, we are at work. >> i did not say a word, because i did not know. we were over allentown, pennsylvania. we started down and 18,000 feet and saw the smoke coming off the first tower that had been hit. we thought it was an air conditioning unit that was on fire. a first officer and i were discussing that. look at the world trade center, i see smoke on the tower. but the chatter on the frequency had died down to nothing, to the point where they were not answering my calls when i was calling in, when i was working the radio. i started diagnosing the airplane is having a radio problem, because center an approach were missing all my calls to them. the only time i would hear from them is when they would call me. my passengers got a ride that
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morning because we were descending for four thousand feet. the smoke from the forel -- first world trade center tower was obscuring laguardia airport. i asked the controller on the approach, we cannot see the field. there was no answer. three times i called them, causing about 10 seconds in between, and there was nothing. there was no chatter, no talk, no anything. then he came back screaming at us, are you with me? i said roger, we are descending down to four thousand feet. he ordered a hard left turn and started screaming turn left, immediately, now, now, immediately. we started rolling into a 25- degree bank, which is our
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standard turn. then he is hollering us to tighten up the turn. tighten it up, keep it coming, tighten it up. i told eric, roll it into 45. he rolled it into 45. when you roll a big jet that the, the nose wants to drop. so he is training on the controls, and that is when i joined him on the controls. with the comptroller still screaming at us. then he rolled us back hard right. rollback hard right, keep it coming, and turn, turn, turn, now. i have never had a controller scream like that, be that excited. as we are coming out of the right turn, we heard on another frequency, we just saw an airplane hit the world trade center. and i looked up and saw the impact at that point.
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i forgot what we were talking about. [laughter] did i let my passengers know? no, i did not. in the middle of the right hand turn, we were rolling about 60 degrees of bank when the flight attendant called up to the cockpit. i instinctively picked up the headset and said what? she said what in god's name is going on up there? you drew me to the floor. >> i said i cannot talk now, and slammed the phone down. after we landed at laguardia, we read the next to the last aircraft to land at laguardia. they took us off the runway. we were facing the world trade center, watching it burn.
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eric and i are discussing the fact that we hope they are getting everyone out of there. a flight attendant comes up and says, someone on the phone back there said something about a cessna running into the world trade center. we started piecing things together. we did not know what size the airplane was, why the first one was on fire. we had nothing to tell people, because we did not know until we got to the gate about 30 minutes later, because longoria was on a ground stop and there was no room. it took forever to get to the gate, but once we got to the gate and people got off, they were actually thanking me for the flight. [laughter] they were happy to be on the .round frictio my wife had called and left me three messages asking me to call her, and i called her. as i am talking to her, she
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tells me that an airplane just at the pentagon. that is when i knew it's time to get everyone off. i came back and told the crew. they were getting ready to go to our next stop at kansas city. i told them we have to get off the airplane and at of the airport, that the nation is under attack. they just looked at me like "yeah, right." then we were ordered off the aircraft. laguardia airport was like a scene from a horror movie. the gathered us up. there was another fellow crew that joined us and they had us remove our insignia and said that we don't know if there are terrorist in the airport or not, so we don't want any flight crew being forced back on an airplane.
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>> were you finished? >> i did not mean to go on and on. >> the question as to what pilots told the passengers, i heard from several hundred pilots when i started to research this book, and the response was not consistent across the ranks. some pilots were worried that if they said anything, if there were hijackers on their aircraft, that they could be tipping them off that some successful hijacks were occurring. they did not want to say anything. some of them, because they did not know if they had hijackers on for their aircraft, those that had the cab and displays that show where you are aircraft is relative to your destination , they were turning those of as they were diverting, because they did not even on their passengers should to know they were diverting.
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-- they did not want their passengers to note. some of them were barricading themselves into the cockpit and making sure no one could break through the cockpit. there were telling their flight attendants under no circumstances to open the cockpit door. other captains and first officers who had several law enforcement officers on board their aircraft that day that happened to be flying for part of their work that day and were carrying weapons, they were trying to confirm if those people were really they said they were. they were trying to go through their airlines dispatched to find out, here is the information that you have to present to the captain, a document if you are carrying a firearm. so these captains were on the phone with dispatch saying we have this guy and this guy on our plane, are they really do they say they are? when they got the word back that
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they were, they were having these law enforcement officers come forward and protect their cockpits. they were moving into first class. one captain had to federal law enforcement officers on board his aircraft. he was a 747 coming in from europe. he had them come upstairs where the cockpit is on the 747 and he told them they could sit in the very front seat there. one of them said i am standing right by the door, capt. he actually had his firearm under his jacket in his hand, and he stood there for the remainder of the flight, protecting the cockpit. so they all really responded differently. some of them did tell their passengers that some of them made a very conscious decision not to tell their passengers anything. >> i think we have time for about two more questions. >> i am a pilot with american
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and i want to thank the pilots on the day is right now for doing an extremely professional job in extremely uncertain predicament. for those of us is that on the flight deck for most of our life, we have pride when we know as much as we can about a situation. when there is a complete lack of certainty with respect to where you are going forward, and angst, such a level of bank especially to the captain of the flight. i can identify in some way with what you went through, even though i was not there that day. on the divert fields, places like gander, and i annexed in bermuda got saturated also. were there quoted as to how many diverse could go to each place of hand? was there a strategy that was
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entertain to begin with b.g.e. entertainment to begin with? -- was there a strategy that was entertained to begin with? >> if there were, we were not aware of it. we knew that they were limited to have many aircraft that could take. their quota was how many they could put on a ramp, and that is how much they were taking. when they filled up a ramp, they had to leave a runway open, but someone mentioned he was trapped behind 38 aircraft. they fill them up at halifax and push them over the top, because the state of maine sticks out over the north. the route to them on to montreal as well. i think they filled all their quotas.
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>> my impression was that bermuda especially got saturated with airplanes. it looked like there were couple of planes that might have left the hard surface, just in navigating the tarmac, to make their way around to find a place to rest. >> ben mentioned mexico as well. i know on the west coast, coming in from alaska, the same thing there. a lot of airports got filled up with their planes. when they started at the time they did, most of the internationals were in the air. a lot of them could not turn around and go back, so they only had one place to go. [applause] >> i also wanted to thank the military fighter pilots for the
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extraordinary bravery that you and all the others like you showed on that day and the following days. i cannot imagine having to face what you did that day. my question was, you talk briefly about having a one-way conversations. did you not have communication with all the commercial pilots? you talked about lying next to them and looking at them. could you not talk to them? >> not until we got them on the frequency that we were on. we tried to reach them on the emergency frequency. in the end, i think we did talk to everybody. some of the helicopters we did not talk to. quite frankly, they got the message, and we did not need to talk to them. [laughter] that was just one less problem we had to deal with. the assumption is, nobody is on the same frequency, so we used the emergency frequency a lot. i still get a hard time from my
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fighter pilot buddies now from hell out -- for how much talking i did on the emergency frequency on 9/11. >> at that time we only had uhf radios, and most civilian are vhf. or vhs o >> will you join me in thanking this panel? [applause]
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the university of texas at dallas, the eugene mcdermott library, and the history of aviation collection would like to express our deepest gratitude and appreciation to all the panelists for green to come and share their stories with us. and to all of you for coming here to hear their stories. we would also like to thank the many people who made this possible, because as you can imagine, putting on something like this with three months' notice took a lot of work and time and effort. let me thank lynn spencer, who is she had not agreed to come and speak, we will expect to see all of you next summer, we would have never thought of this great idea. to the mcdermott library special collection coordinator, his staff, the library's program
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coordinator and manager, and the communications department, the staff of the development office, and many others from across campus such as the ambassadors, the book store, police, facilities management, and media services. without all of them, none of this would have been possible. the frontiers of light museum, the collectors club of ellis, our thanks to c-span for agreeing to carry this message live to the nation. and finally, a special thanks again to all of you for agreeing to come on such short notice, to: scroggins or missing that football game. we really do appreciate you sharing your story. please allow our panelists to
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exit first. you can browse the exhibits from special collections and enjoy the reception. thank you very much for being here with us today, and we look forward to seeing all of you in special collections and the eugene mcdermott library here at the university of texas at dallas. thank you again. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] >> tonight on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we will show you a pentagon remembrance ceremony. also in the pennsylvania, a flight 93 memorial with first lady michelle obama and former first lady laura bush. following that, aviation
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officials and pilots recount their experiences during the terrorist attacks. monday, the impeachment trial committee starts their hearings. he is charged with accepting guests and cash from people who lead cases before him. it is expected to last throughout the week. the c-span network provide coverage of political affairs, books, and american history. is available to you on television, radio, on line, and on social network media sites. we take c-span on the road with our digital box and local content, bringing our resources to your community. it is washington your way. the c-span networks -- created
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by cable and provided as a public service. president obama and defense secretary robert gates spoke at the ceremony at the pentagon today. they are joined by joint chiefs of staff chairman mike mullen. the president asked americans to honor the fallen by keeping alive americas shared virtues and values. from the pentagon, this is 35 minutes. from the pentagon, this is 35 minutes.
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>> the national anthem of the united states. ♪ "star-spangled banner"]
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>> ladies and gentlemen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen. >> mr. president, secretary gates, distinguished guests, most of all families and friends of those we lost on 9/11, inside the pentagon, near the chapel, lies a quilt on display. it was stitched together by dozens of americans who simply wanted those of us who survived the attack on his building to note that day, our fellow citizens, would always remember those who did not. on that quilt are written these words by a little girl, "in our hearts, we weep for you. in our minds, we honor you."
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today, her words still comfort us, because today, we still weak for those we lost here and in new york -- weep for those we lost here, in new york, and in somerset county. we honor them with our presence and certainly with this memorial. mostly, we honor them with our lives, with what we have done from that day to this, the sacrifices we have borne, the laughter we have shared, the hope we have dared to let back into our hearts. unspeakable carnage was visited upon us here, but it did not conquer us. unimaginable loss was felled by a us here, but it does not diminish -- felt by us here, but it does not diminish us.
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what lies behind you and what lies in front of you pales in comparison to what lies inside of you. let us weep for what lies behind us. let us honor what lies in front of us. let us remember always what lies side of us. -- inside of us. please join me now in imam -- in a moment of silence and remembrance.
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>> thank you dear ladies and gentleman, the secretary of defense, robert gates. >> thank you. friends and family members, thank you for being here. nine years ago today, on a day much like this, the column of the clear september morning was shattered by the worst act of terrorism in our history. the attack on the world trade center, flight 93 over pennsylvania, and the pentagon -- steps from where we stand today, claimed thousands of innocent victims and forever scarred their families and friends and all americans. we honor and remember those who fell, surrounded by those who love them and still feel the pain of their loss. this remembered continues in ways large and small. yesterday we had the official
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presentation of the pentagon 9/11 quilt featuring the faces of all 184 of those who died on these grounds. we are grateful for the work and dedication of the volunteers who brought that moving project into reality. just west of here, a portion of washington boulevard is being named 9/11 q rose memorial highway. it will remind those passing by -- heroes memorial highway. it will remind those passing by what happened. young americans answered the call to serve. thousands have made the ultimate sacrifice. their absence is felt today, too, and everyday. our troops and their families have paid a steep price these past nine years and have shown resilience end strength -- and strength to a country that cherishes their service and the memory of those who have fallen.
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we are honored that the president is here to help us commemorate this anniversary. it is my great pleasure to introduce our commander-in- chief, the president of the united states. [applause] >> secretary gates, admiral mullen, members of the armed forces, my fellow americans, most of all to you, the survivors who still bear the scars of the tragedy and destruction, to the families who are carrying in your hearts the memories of loved ones you lost nation, this is a day of remembering, of reflection, and with god's grace, a day of unity and
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renewal. we gathered to remember, at this hallowedur, on ground, the places where we feel such grief and where are healing goes on. we gather at the pentagon where the names of the lost are forever etched in stone. we gather in a pennsylvania field where a plane went down and a tower of voices will rise and echoed through the ages -- echo through the ages. we gather where the twin towers fell, a site where work continues so that next year, on the 10th anniversary, the water will flow in steady tribute to the nearly 3000 innocent lost. on this day, it is perhaps natural to focus on the images of that awful morning -- images
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that are seared into our souls. it is tempting to dwell on the final moments of the loved ones whose lives were taken so cruelly. at these memorials, your presence today reminds us to remember the fullness of their time on earth. there were fathers and mothers raising families, brothers and sisters pursuing their dreams, sons and daughters, their whole lives before them. they were civilians and service members. some never saw the danger coming. others saw the peril and rushed to save others, up those stairwells, into the flames coming into the cockpit. there were white, black, brown, men, women, children. all races, many faiths.
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americans and people from far corners of the world. they were snatched from us senselessly and much too soon, but they lived well. they live on in you. nine years have now passed. in that time, you have shed more tears that we will ever know. though it must seem some days as though the world has gone on to other things, i say to you today that your loved ones endure in the heart of our nation now and forever. our remembrances today also requires a certain reflection -- require a server reflection as a nation and as individuals. -- require a certain reflection
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as a nation and as individuals. how do we preserve their legacy, not just today, but every day? we need not look far for our answers. the perpetrators of this evil act did not simply attack america. they attacked the very idea of america itself, all that we stand for and represent in the world. the highest honor we can pay those we lost, indeed, our greatest weapon in this ongoing war, is to do what our adversaries fear the most -- stayed true to who we are as americans, renew our sense of common purpose, to say that we define the character of our
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country and we will not let the acts of some small band of murderers who slaughter the innocent and cower in caves distort who we are. they doubted our will. as americans, we persevered. today in afghanistan and beyond, we have gone on the offensive and struck major blows against the al qaeda and the taliban. we will do what is necessary to protect our country. we honor all those who served to keep us safe. they may seek to strike fear in us, but they are no match for our resilience. we do not succumb to fear, nor will we squander the optimism that has always defined as as a people -- us as a people. on a day when others saw to destroy, we have chosen to build.
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we have summoned the goodness of the american people. they may think to exploit our freedoms, but we will not sacrifice the liberty we cherish or hunker down behind walls of suspicion and mistrust. they may wish to drive us apart, but we will not give in to their hatred and prejudice. scripture teaches us to get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice. they may seek to spark conflict between different faiths, but as americans we are not and will never be at war with islam. it was not our religion that attacked us that september day. it was al-qaeda, a story band of men which perverts' religion -- sorry band of men which
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perverts religion. we will stay true to our traditions here it home as a burst and tolerant nation -- as a diverse and tolerant nation. we champion the rights of every american, including the right to worship as one chooses. those who attack saw to demoralize, divide, deprive us of the very unity and the very ideals that make america america -- the qualities that have made as a beacon of freedom and hope to billions around the world -- made us a begin of freedom and hope -- beacon of freedom and hope to billions around the world. we will keep alive the virtues and values that make us who we
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are and who we must always be. for our cause is just, our spirit is strong, our resolve is unwavering. generations before us have come together. let us come to get there today and all days to a firm certain inalienable rights. to affirm life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. on this day and in the days to come, we choose to stay true to our best selves as one nation, under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. this is how we choose to honor the fallen. your families, your friends, your fellow service members. this is how we will keep alive the legacy of these proud and
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patriotic americans. this is how we will prevail in this great test of our time. this is how we will preserve and protect the country that we love and pass it safer and stronger to future generations. may god bless you and your families, and may god continue to bless the united states of america. [applause] ♪
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♪ [brass quintet continues playing "america, the beautiful"] ♪
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♪ ["amazing grace" instrumental]
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♪ >> now, to a ceremony in shanksville, pennsylvania. firstly michelle obama and former first lady laura bush joined the ceremony. the united airlines flight
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crashed at the site after a struggle between the passengers and terrorists.
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>> ladies and gentlemen, please welcome michelle obama, fmer first lady laura bush, joanne hanley, and governor ed rende. [applause] >> please be sead, everybody. >> good morning. what a good morning it is. how wonderful it is to be able to welcome mrs. obama and mrs. bush here today, secretary salazar, governor rendell, gordon felt. thank you for the privilege of sharing this stage with you this morning. to our family members, the loved ones and the friends of the passengers and crew of flight
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93, welcome and comfort and peace be with you today. this thing -- the distinguished guests that we have today are many. a warm welcome to mrs. mursa, -- mrs. murtha, the wife of our beloved and late congressman john murtha. [applause] judge rendell, current first lady of pennsylvania. [applause] and mrs. michelle ridge, the former first lady of pennsylvania. [applause] former secretary of the interior and national parks director, welcome. senator kucinich and county
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commissioners, as well as representatives from our senator and congress offices. neal mulholland and chris sullivan. [applause] and the architects of our beautiful memorial and our landscape architect. [applause] we also just want to recognize that there are many students here from the high school. also, welcome to our general counsel. [applause]
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most important is all of you, not only our partners, the flight 93 federal advisory commissioner, are newly formed friends -- our newly-formed friends of flight 93, and all of you who show up to support this memorial. we hope that our flight 93 families are comforted by you, there american family. -- their american family. there have been many changes and much progress with the help of our community, our partners, our friends, and our elected officials. it is because of you that we stand here today. it is like a family reunion. we remember and honor the past. we mourned the loss of life. we also seize this moment in time to commemorate. we look to next year and t future with anticipation, with
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hope, with pride, and with humility. most of all, with thanks. we recommit today to never forget. we are in the process of creating history and creating a our heritage. how we respond as a nation and heal and how we remained strong will be remembered in future generations. on this beautiful day, overlooking the final resting place of the 40 passengers and crew, and we begin with remarks from secretary of the interior ken salazar who has been instrumental and pivotal on so many successes in this project. he ia fifth-generation corodoan. he was confirmed on january 20, 2009, in a unanimous vote and by the senate. prior to his confirmation, he served as